A first timer PASS summit 2017 journey
Back in 2011, I decided I wanted to become a database administrator and one day go to the PASS summit. This year, I was fortunate enough to earn my place at the summit.
After a 20 hour flight, I landed in the beautiful city of Seattle, Washington.
Tuesday, October 31, 2017
The summit offers a two day Pre-Con that costs extra, unfortunately, this was not within my budget.
A friend, Geri Reshef (B|T), told me about a Free-Con (Seattle SQL Pro Workshop 2017) sponsored by Redgate, that was scheduled to be the day before the summit. The summit offers a tow days Pre-Con that Cost extra, unfortunately, I could not afford it.
I opted for my friend's suggestion, about 25-30 people arrived throughout the day. There were great speakers on the following topics:
Designing an SSIS Framework - Andy Leonard @AndyLeonard
What is this "SQL Inj/stuff/ection", and how does it affect me? - Wayne Sheffield @DBAWayne
Parameter sniffing and other cases of the confused optimizer - Gail Shaw @SQLintheWild
Implementing a Hierarchy in SQL Server - Louis Davidson @drsql
Intro to Monitoring I/O: The Counters That Count - Jimmy May @aspiringgeek
Dolly, Footprints and a Dash of eXtra time - Jason Brimhall @sqlrnnr
At the end of the day, we played a game using SQL phrases association.
The winner of the first prize was a Redgate toolbelt.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - Day No I
Before starting this day, I honestly didn't know what to expect.
My mind was focused on new technology, rather than networking.
I had selected in advance the sessions that were of interest, however as the day went by, I did change my decisions.
The day started with Microsoft Keynotes – the best opportunity to hear the latest announcements.
The keynotes presented by Rohan Kumar (@RohanKSQL), GM of Database Systems Engineering.
1st announcement - SQL Operations Studio, data operations tool for SQL everywhere – a cross platform tool that can used on MacOS\ Windows or Linux.
2nd announcement – All features of SQL Server 2017 in Azure DB(not so new..)
3rd The new Azure Data Factory (preview) lets you migrate your SSIS packages as-is up to the cloud.
4th Scale-out Azure Analysis Services
The rest of the day, I went to the following sessions:
Benchmarking & Testing In-Memory OLTP Performance Amit R S Bansal. DBA, Level: 300
Optimize SQL Server: Become a Query Tuning Master Rajnikant Tandel, Anup Gopinathan. DBA, Level: 400
Inside SQL Server 2017 on Linux Bob Ward. DBA, Level: 500
Between sessions, you have refreshment breaks that include coffee or some cold drinks.
Mostly for me, this time was used to make the final difficult choice which session I wanted to go to next (from the sessions that I had already chosen in advance), and find the location of the room.
My conclusion from the first day:
In retrospect, at the end of the day I had only been to three sessions, I wish I had gone to more. I also should not have gone to a double session (as good as they are), instead I should have gone to different sessions in order to as wide a variety of speakers as possible.
If you can buy the recording of all the 3 days of the summit, rest assure you will see every session that you want. Try to choose sessions that you have a question on the topic or for the speaker.
Don't choose just by level, try to read first about the speakers.
Thursday, November 2, 2017. Day No II
Woke up at 4:30 AM. still adjusting to the time zone here.
The hotel that I was staying at was a ten minute walk from the convention center, here in Seattle during November, the sun does not rise before 8 o'clock.
The second day, breakfast was sponsored by Microsoft and Dell EMC. So you had to listen to one of the two speakers from either company to listen to while you ate.
Microsoft, provided two speakers to choose from – BI track (Deep Dive into SSIS 2017 and Beyond by Jimmy Wong) or DBA (Tales from the field: SQL Server experts Share key lessons learned about fixing SQL Server performance Issues by several speakers).
In the community area, you could spot a few guys wearing a kilt.
Later in the day when I met Grant Fritchey, aka "Scary DBA" (B|T) who explained to me about the kilt phenomenon. Apparently, Its all started 8 years ago, when someone dared Grant Fritchey to wear a kilt on the second day. Of course, this is exactly what he did.
Alexander Arvidsson @arcticdba
A year later, there were a few attendee\speakers who arrived on the second day donning a kilt as well.
Since then, it has become a bit of a tradition for some of those attending PASS to wearing kilt on the second day.
The session went in-depth on the the specific and designs of how and why you should consider using this service rather than what you were currently using on- premise (Key-Value, Documents, Graph or Column-Family).
It was a defining moment at the seminar, at this point I really understood the purpose of Azure Cosmos DB and why/where can I use it. It was an inspiring session.
The rest of the day, I choose the following sessions:
Linux Clustering for the SQL Server DBA Allan Hirt. DBA, Level: 300
Microsoft SQL Server 2017 Deep Dive Travis Wright, Tobias Ternstrom. DBA, Level: 300
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Data Partitioning but Were Afraid to Ask Dmitri Korotkevitch. DBA, Level: 300. This is a double session, I have been only at the first part and changed my mind about the level of this and for the rest of the day, I went to a different session.
Secrets of the Query Optimizer Revealed Using Trace Flag 86xx Kevin Kline. DBA, Level: 400
At the end of the day, you could choose between a different party\ Gathering.
I went to the Redgate party, you could drink a beer\ wine and to have some refreshment.
This was another opportunity to meet some new great people from the community worldwide.
My conclusions from the second day:
Visit presentations of knowledgeable and popular speakers.
Look for sessions you are less familiar with, if you want to learn something new.
Friday, November 3, 2017. Day No III
On the last day, as the conference was coming to an close, some attendees arrived with their suitcases already packed for their flights home. This was my last opportunity to observe, therefore I chose sessions more selectively and by the speakers reputation.
I went to the following sessions:
"But It Worked in Development!" - 3 Hard Performance Problems Brent Ozar DBA, Level: 400
Performance Monitoring Using Extended Events, DMVs & Query Store Ola Hallengren DBA, Level: 300
Tuning In-Memory Indexes Kalen Delaney DBA, Level: 300
After the Pre-Con and the three days of the convention and the Pre-Con, I concluded the following about my experience:
Choose sessions with a unique combination of topic and speaker skill.
The summit is the best way to meet people from our field from all over the world.
On all three days of the summit you can ask Microsoft SQLCAT team about any issues (If you came prepared).
Use your time wisely and talk to other people, even on the breaks or lunchtime. in short mingle.
In addition, this is rare opportunity to hear sessions from Microsoft program managers about all kinds of topics rather just its BI, DB engine or Azure.
My advice is for those attending in the future, but also as a reminder to myself for the next year. I stayed for an extra day. I used the time to see the city with some wonderful friends from the convention. It was a fantastic end to my week in Seattle.